(By Correne Coetzer) While waiting for the Kenn Borek Twin Otter to fly the last flight of the 2014 North Pole season, ExplorersWeb caught up with Bengt Rotmo in his tent, via his home team manager in Oslo, Lars Ebbesen.
Last week when Kenn Borek picked up Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen at the Geographic North Pole, the pilots assessed the ice from the air and found that it became too dangerous to land later in the season in case of an emergency rescue for the remaining two teams, solo Bengt and Eric Philips and team. Evacuation date was set for May 12, weather permitting.
After guiding two Last Degree expeditions (110 km each), Bengt started skiing the 780 km route from the Geographic North Pole south to Canada on April 21. Since the start, strong and continuous winds hampered travel with backwards and eastern drifts, cancelling hard earned miles. Usually the Pole-to-Land skiers benefit from a mostly positive drift.
Lars Ebbesen explained, "He has (probably) done the 15-20km planned for, but the drift has reduced that to 5-15km instead of getting some 2-3 (to 10) km bonus drift a day.” Bengt says to ExWeb his average was "too little to be comfortable” and on top of that "the 5-15 km drift was not towards Canada."
How far is he from Canada, Exweb wants to know from Bengt. "A Greenland crossing,” responded this Greenland guide, who has done several horizontal Greenland crossings.
Bengt has still food for 25 days left, but was willing to try to catch seal if necessary to stock his food bags. He has seen several. Physically and mentally he feels strong, Bengt assures ExWeb.
Was that a wise decision to start so late, ExWeb wants to know. "Depend on who you ask, to some people this is not a wise place to be any time of the year.”
"To me this trip has been great. Being up here alone for 20+ days has been great. And an experience I need for later. Since I was working until Barneo closed I really didn't have a choice. But an early start would be better."
Bengt's second Last Degree seemed to have been a challenge with the weather and drift. How energized did he feel after the last degrees, we want to know. Didn't that drain a lot of his energy and body weight? Did he gain weight before the LDs. If yes, how much?
"It's hard to gain weight when you are out all the time
;-) It has been a busy year. But it gets the engine going.”
"Both Last Degrees were great. Some drift on the last one, but not like I have experienced after the Pole."
Bengt has done three Northern Patagonia Ice Cap crossings where he had encountered really bad weather. How does the weather on the Arctic Ocean compare to there? "It cannot be compared, much more windy in Patagonia, a lot colder in the Arctic. Though yesterday was pretty windy by any standard."
The Norwegian has done several Last Degrees. Is that in a way preparation for doing the full distance, ExWeb asked. "LDs are my work, which I truly love from the bottom of my heart! Both the ice and all the people I meet year after year. Meeting the clients and the other guides first on Spitsbergen, having a wonderful time in the ice, then the gathering at Barneo after the trip. It's a moment of the year that I always look forward to, hope it will continue for many, many years!”
"But prep wise, a full length is a notch up from LDs in every respect - mentally, safety, simplicity and physically. The pulka is heavier, changes in the time of year make it different. And finally, a lot more days."
Were there times that he though it is better/safer to have a team mate in the bad weather and dangerous and difficult ice conditions on the Arctic Ocean? "Mostly it is always safer to be two, but one of my main goals was to see how I'm doing all by myself. So far we are good friends both me and myself :-) It has been a great time."
Is this Pole-to-Land a ‘preparation' for something more? (if we can use 'preparation' for such an enormous challenge), ExWeb wants to know from Bengt. "To me its all about learning more, and yes, I would love to do a colder trip up here. Time will show."
Bengt is currently situated on "nice flat ice” where the plane can land, but it is overcast, he told ExplorersWeb this morning. The Kenn Borek Twin Otter will depart from Eureka in the very high Canadian Arctic as soon as the weather permits.
Weather news just received from Canadian Ice Service, predicts that weather-wise the best pick-up date may be May 13.
Norwegian Bengt Rotmo is a guide for Borge Ousland Polar Exploration, on Antarctica, the Arctic, Greenland and the Northern Patagonia Ice Cap. Among his expeditions he has guided a Norwegian group from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and has across the Northern Patagonian Ice Cap three times.
The North Pole is over: all teams to be evacuated
North Pole update: Bengt Rotmo to be picked up
North Pole update: "Safe here is a relative term”
North Pole 2014: Bengt Rotmo to ski solo North Pole to Canada
Northern Patagonia Ice Cap: ExWeb Interview with Bengt Egil Rotmo
Borge Ousland, Thorleif Nokleby and Bengt Rotmo on their way to the Northern Patagonia Ice Cap
Bengt Rotmo and team at the South Pole
Video: 2012 Northern Patagonia Ice Cap crossing
AdventureStats successful expeditions:
Land to Geographic North Pole
2014: 1x unassisted ski team from Canada
2013: 1x car team from Russia (did a crossing)
2010: 1x unassisted ski team from Canada
3x assisted ski teams from CA
2009: 1x unassisted ski team from CA
1x assisted ski team from CA
2008: 1x assisted ski team from Russia (winter exped)
2007: 1x assisted ski team from CA
Geographic North Pole to Land
2013: 1x assisted dog team to CA
2012: 1x unassisted ski and kayak team to Svalbard
2011: 2x assisted ski teams to CA
2009: 1x unassisted ski team to Greenland
2007: 1x unassisted ski and kayak team to Franz
1x assisted ski team to Greenland
assisted = resupplied
A note on the North Pole daily ski distances: They are calculated in a straight line from where the skiers start in the mornings and end in the evenings. What is not added, are all the detours around high ridges, ice blocks, rubble or leads (open water). Also not added are the negative drift and relaying sleds.
A North Pole expedition covers the full dist”nce between land and the Pole (90ºN).
The Cape Discovery route (Canada) to the Geographic North Pole is 780 km.
Ward Hunt Island (Canada) start point calculates at 775 km.
A Degree of Latitude is 60 nm / 110 km.
Geographic North Pole is at 90ºN
1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole:
78° 35'42.00"N, 104° 11’54.00”W
Resolute Bay: 74° 41.808N, 094° 49.402W
Ski Teams starting from Cape Discovery, Ellesmere Island, to the Geographic North Pole (90ºN)
Team Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters
Last North Expedition:
Start March 15 at 83.043627N, 077.374263W
End My 6 at 90N
Ryan Waters, USA
Mountain Professionals Facebook
Eric Larsen, USA
Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada
(started April 21)
Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada
(Start April 4)
Eric Philips, Australia
Bernice Notenboom, The Netherlands / Canada
Martin Hartley, UK
Bernice Notenboom Twitter
Icetrek Expeditions Facebook
Kite ski circumnavigation:
Eric McNair-Landry (CA) and Dix”e Dansercoer (BE)
Blog Greenland ICE Expedition
Facebook (Polar Circles)
Twitter (Polar Circles)
Facebook (Pittarak Expeditions)
Michael Chavarin (FR) and Cornelius Strohm (DE)
Yuri Klaver (USA to Greenland via CA)
Follow blog posts (with RSS feeds) in the live News Stream on ExplorersWeb.
Sean Chapple's insights: Laying the Foundations for Success
North Pole: Irish team injured and evacuated - update: Norwegians also off
North Pole Norwegians and Americans flying to Cape Discovery - updated landed and skiing
NASA: Warm Rivers Play Role in Arctic Sea Ice Melt
Norwegian North Pole team talking to ExWeb from the high Canadian Arctic
North Pole 2014: first skiers flying to their start point
Dmitry Shparo's Top 5 North Pole Tips
Irish North Pole team checking in at ExWeb from Resolute Bay
The cost of Arctic travel: Jerry Kobalenko talks to ExWeb
Yasunaga Ogita talking to ExWeb from the high Canadian Arctic
North Pole 2014 full route ski expedition list
ExWeb interview with Ryan Waters, "an unwritten and unexplainable mental edge”
ExWeb interview with Eric Larsen, "a mix of poetry and hell to the North Pole”
ExWeb interview with Bernice Notenboom, the Arctic and the world’s climate
Ray Zahab and team Baffin Island run 2014
Canadian Ice Service
The Arctic Weather products link on the Canadian Ice Service IPY Legacy page
Two-day sea ice drifts for the whole Arctic Ocean on the Danish DMI website
ENVISAT ASAR images on the Polarview website
Canada Weather Office satellite image
NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory
University of Illinois cryosphere images
Wayne Davidson’s Extremely High Horizon Refraction
Wayne Davidson’s EH2R blog
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